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Online Writing Lab

Responding to an Essay

A response is a common writing assignment that often accompanies a summary. Once a writer has summarized a piece of literature, the writer may be asked to respond to it. Unlike a summary, a response is a subjective opinion about the piece and, as such, can include opinions and personal experiences as long as they are supported.

The key to writing a good response is to always be specific and to support any and all points made. What, specifically, from the essay are you responding to? And how and why, specifically, do you agree or disagree with this point? 

In a sense, writing a response is similar to writing a detailed argument essay. An argument essay involves laying out a debatable claim (thesis) and supporting it with a variety of evidence. In a response, your thesis is your overall opinion of the essay you are responding to (which is certainly debatable) and should be supported in a similar manner. Be sure to support every point of response with personal experiences, examples or facts obtained from research.

Here is a list of some common ways to respond to an essay: